World | Tue Aug 4, 2009 11:58pm IST

White House calls Ahmadinejad elected leader of Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "elected leader" of Iran on Tuesday when asked whether President Barack Obama recognized the Iranian president after the country's disputed election.

"This was a decision and a debate ongoing in Iran by Iranians, they were going to choose their leadership," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "He's the elected leader."

The White House has been careful not to comment on the legitimacy of the Iranian election and has condemned the government for its crackdown on opposition demonstrators.